In honor of National Spanish Heritage Month, we are profiling in France and Switzerland our renowned Head of Growth, who has been with News Credit for five and a half years. The article was written by Meghan Katuchi, a senior customer success manager and D&I Council leader at Newsseed, who is also lucky to call Jesse her best friend.
Jesse de la Cruz was sitting in his Paris apartment when our zoom call was dialed. Her apartment is elegant, uncluttered and beautiful, just like that.
Like many people in our culture who consider themselves a “minority”, Jesse has to laugh when people ask him about his experience with Latinx.
“People have asked, and really, what does that mean? My experience is my experience. I have nothing to compare it to.
Jesse was born in the early Dominican Republic in the early 1990’s. When her parents separated, her mother brought her to the United States when she was nine years old – specifically – in Brooklyn, New York, to give her a better chance at life, especially since her home. The area was becoming increasingly insecure, with crime on the rise. . Like between the three, in which there are two brothers. Her mother can only afford to bring one child to the states, and she believes she can benefit from a cultural attitude that girls need extra protection, as family members readily admit that If a child wants to go, he should have it.
While she had a large extended family in Brooklyn, and had cousins of her own age, she was largely isolated from school. She attended a Catholic school in Williamsburg called Transfigration, which was attended by her mother’s youngest siblings. It was a step up from the local public school and her family extended themselves a little to make sure she could attend.
“I didn’t speak English – that was probably the most important thing, but it wasn’t a big obstacle for me because I wasn’t old enough to be shy at that age.
“There’s a memory that’s open, because my parents always called me by my middle name, Yazmin – not a real name like in Spanish – on the first day of school in the states, they called me by my first name and I wasn’t responsible at all. The teachers called the principal, the principal called my mother, and later that day the principal announced through the loudspeaker throughout the school, that my name is the same and I don’t know yet. ۔ “
She participated in the decoration for a year, and since she did not speak English in her first nine months in the states, her grades could have improved. Despite knowing that she did not speak English and that she was unable to continue her education, the school decided to focus on her. Not well equipped and did nothing to help speed it up. Still, he had high expectations of himself:
“I still went to the student assembly every month and hoped to win the Student of the Month award. He didn’t click with me so much that it wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t learn anything this year. The geography test will get 4 out of 100.
The slightest change in the climate was to add to the shock of the culture. He had a windbreaker as a coat, New York was totally inadequate in the cold winter, but he guessed what things were like in this new place. He never thought of asking for a heavy coat.
“I just assumed it should be,” he said of those early experiences. “I generally think that the immigrant experience is just that; there are a lot of things that can be better but that you have to accept them just like that because you’re not home and you know that things are going to be different here. Are understood.
By the next year, he had a little too much attachment, and fourth grade was flowing. He credited his youth with helping him catch on fast. She was not embarrassed and asked questions and taught her cousins her specific phrases until she could catch them, even if she sometimes used them in the wrong context.
Jesse de la Cruz
Jesse was educated in college in France, and his initial experience contrasts with his attitude and the nervous language from which he learns a new language. Not only is it better to be associated with Americans while living in Paris – it’s probably not surprising that we don’t have the best reputation there – but Parisians can be notoriously racist, and while Jesse’s race is perfectly clear. No, it’s clear. That he is not white.
“If I didn’t know how to say anything in France, I would just completely avoid this situation,” he said.
Jesse suffered blatant discrimination in Paris, much more than that, in New York. She will be treated badly in the restaurant, a good comment was heard and even someone commented that she may not be able to afford to spend money in an establishment.
Jesse recalled, “I was going to a hair salon once, and I saw a woman washing her hair, and he was in the middle of saying racist things about Arabs.” “We had a brief eye contact and he apologized, he didn’t know I was listening. I just told him I wasn’t Arab, which made one of the salon workers tell me this. Regularly asked where I am from. When I told her I was Dominican, she said: “Oh, that’s why you speak French – we civilized this country many years ago. Was
[This is not only racist but also factually incorrect; the Dominican Republic was originally a Spanish colony.]
“I think I was stunned to react. It was the first time I had experienced something that was insulting, but the end of that kind of exchange became very common here.
The French will assume he is North African. A group of people who are highly discriminated against and targeted, especially in Paris.
“Those things don’t bite me so deeply, because that’s not true. However, thoughts and feelings are very dirty, and I can relate it to things close to home.”
All this, after returning to the states for many years, Jesse decided to return to Paris permanently last year, despite these experiences. For this, it is quite simple; Although racism can flourish especially there, it is not as organized as it is in the United States. The lack of institutional racism, perhaps surprisingly, leads to a better life.
Jesse’s more explicit experiences of racism in the states were recent, disturbing, and close to home. Her older brother was arrested for DUI in New York two years ago, and he exposed her to American racism in a way he had never seen before.
It was the beginning of New Year’s Day, and he was dragged home from a party when he realized he was too drunk to drive. He parked the car, left it running in January to keep warm in the cold, and ordered an Uber – then fell asleep waiting for it. Because the car was traveling with him in the driver’s seat, when a police officer found him, he is still driving under the influence.
Following his arrest, he was told that he had an arrest warrant in another state for a drug-related crime. He was advised by his lawyer not to plead guilty before the DUI, as it was better for him to settle the case without a previous sentence. As a result, he spent six months in a Manhattan prison.
“It was awful, and the intense and graphic events they witnessed every day were really awful,” he said.
There were some bad parts to the police experience of eliminating prejudice and discrimination.
He said that he only has his own racism. “We know you did it because you are Dominican,” he said. Dominican boys like you do things like that. “She was treated very harshly because she was considered guilty. And since he was convicted, he was considered disposable.
The whole experience also sheds light on Jesse’s relative privilege, which is based on something as small as a head of skin.
“My brothers are both dark-skinned, and because I’m light, I have some fluency that is not in them,” he said.
Overall, Jesse’s legacy, family and interactions have certainly influenced his own identity and his view of the world, but for him (and all of us) who is still ready.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m in the middle of my experience as an immigrant. I’m not a first-generation American, and now I’m in a completely different country. There’s no element that made me identifiable. Yes, just like anyone else. I’m just a collection of all my experiences.
Originally updated October 15, 2020 at 9:00 AM, October 16, 2020